Queens Park Rangers and Fulham had the Sky big wigs cursing their television sections as a desperately dour derby ended in a stalemate at Loftus Road. The fare on the field hardly matched the fervour in the stands as Fulham’s seventh goalless draw of the season left the Whites searching for positives.

The upbeat assessment is that this draw means they haven’t lost ground on the sides above them in the play-off picture, whereas QPR’s hopes of playing Premiership football next term became even more remote after a five successive derby. At least Rangers had scored in each of their previous four, Fulham’s tally of 29 goals in 33 games is pitiful when you consider that Paul Bracewell can call upon Barry Hayles, Karl-Heinz Riedle, Geoff Horsfield and Paul Peschisolido.

Hayles delayed his flight to team up with the Cayman Islands until after this derby knowing how important the three points were to the Whites. He looked Fulham’s likeliest source of a goal, denied by a fine tackle from Darren Ward in the first half, and then by a brilliant stop from Lee Harper in the last minute. Bracewell’s caution has already cost Fulham a place in the League Cup semi-finals this season and here, with both sides cancelling each other out by playing three centre backs, the novice manager’s big tactical tweak was to play Steve Finnan in central midfield rather than at right wing-back.

It took a lot of getting used to as QPR made the brighter start. Gavin Peacock would have fired the hosts ahead on two separate occasions within the first five minutes had the bounce of the ball favoured the former Chelsea midfielder and the visitors still look all at sea at the end of the first half. Chris Kiwomya’s headed wastefully over the bar before Stuart Wardley squandered a glorious chance after brilliant play from Jermaine Darlington down the right.

Former Arsenal forward Kiwomya’s woeful night in front of goal continued three minutes after the interval when he mistimed his jump to meet Richard Langley’s right-wing cross. Hayles then couldn’t control when he burst through on goal – having almost ran into Finnan – but the ex-Bristol Rovers striker was blameless at the death after his instinctive close-range finish was kept out by the sprawling Harper. The draw proved unsatisfactory to both of these clubs, who will likely have to plan for another year away from the promised land.

QUEENS PARK RANGERS (5-3-2): Harper; Darlington, Baraclough, Ward, Ready, Rose; Wardley, Peacock, Langley; Kiwomya, Beck.

QUEENS PARK RANGERS (5-3-2): Harper; Darlington, Baraclough, Ward, Ready, Rose (Murray 64); Wardley, Peacock, Langley (Kulscar 80); Kiwomya (Slade 80), Beck. Subs (not used): Miklosko, Rowland.

FULHAM (5-3-2): Taylor; Goldbaek, Phelan, Morgan, Melville, Coleman; Ball, Finnan, Clark; Hayles, Riedle. Subs (not used): Hahnemann, Symons, Davis, Hayward, W. Collins.

BOOKED: Phelan.

REFEREE: Tony Heilbron (County Durham).